Friday, December 5, 2014

"Nice Girls Who Like Stuff": Analysis of beauty vloggers and their business models (from The Hairpin)

This is an interesting article that I meant to link to months ago and just found in my drafts folder. It talks about the inoffensive homogeneity that defines the most popular YouTube beauty gurus and how they perfect that formula to make big, big bucks (or big truckloads of free swag).

Seems especially pertinent now with the news that Zoella's book is breaking records for sales.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What makes $675 nail polish better than drugstore nail polish?

Do you think anyone was like, "I have no idea why this would cost so much money," but they didn't include those people, because it's not as funny? There had to be someone, right? RIGHT?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

I'm not going to blog about all the Black Friday sales, even though they are great for being cheap. First, I don't want to know about all the good deals out there right now, because I am trying to avoid buying more things. If I listed sales here, I would almost certainly have to buy something. Or things. I own too much shit, and I need to stop. Second, it would be redundant, because Nouveau Cheap has you covered.

I am, however, going to take advantage of the 15% off + free shipping deal from Paula's Choice to replace a couple of things that I needed to buy anyway. I always wait for them to offer free shipping before I order anything, and even though 15% off isn't huge, it's a nice bonus. (The free shipping applies to both US and Canadian orders, by the way.) I need some more 2% BHA liquid (review here). I'm also tempted to try the 4% BHA foam, which had been out of stock for a while. It's back and has great reviews. I have a few days to decide, since the sale goes until the end of the week (it's a little unclear exactly how long, but they call it "cyber week"). There's no code. If it's your first time ordering from them, you can also get $10 off by signing up through my invite link (I also get $10). Ebates (referral link) also has 6% cash back, which I will definitely be using (more info on using Ebates here and here).

Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (empty!)
This seems like a good time for a review of the Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, since I already had the photos on my phone waiting for me to scrounge up some free time. I have almost a week off! Amazing. I mean, I do have to write up and send out seven job applications and also try to plan the courses I'm teaching next semester, but I get to do most of that from home in while wearing yoga pants.

I just started my second tube of this serum. I've been using it 4-5 times a week in the mornings since September, so I think that's a pretty decent amount of time for it to last, even though the tube is small. I actually started it back in July, when I mentioned it here, but didn't start using it regularly until the fall. Back then I said I wouldn't be buying it again unless it did something "really impressive" . . . and here we are.

I don't actually know how to tell if it's having any long term results. That's true of most (all?) products I use. I guess if my skin stays looking about the same over time, then at least the big bad environment isn't damaging it too much, so maybe it's protected or whatever.

I absolutely love the immediate results that this serum gives me, though. I think the difference is that I'm now using it first thing in the morning, rather than before bed, and so I have a chance to observe its effects on my skin while I'm awake. I still find it moisturizing enough that I don't need an additional moisturizer, even though it's getting wintery and the furnace is running all the time. I use it after washing my face and applying BHA liquid with a glamorous piece of flannel. The antioxidant serum makes my skin feel really fucking nice. I never understood what people meant when they wrote in skin care reviews that their skin felt "plump" after using something. Swollen? Sounded weird to me. But I think this is it! It's softer and more cushiony, but definitely not tight. Like your face is a beauty blender that you ran under water once. Except without swelling. DOES THAT HELP? Sorry. Let me start over.

This shit makes my skin feel significantly smoother and softer after I apply it in the morning. So soft. So fucking soft. The other great thing is that it smoothes out dry, flaky patches. I usually have those on my chin and almost always around my nose. This cures those flakes in a way no moisturizer I've used has ever done, and it means I can put makeup over those parts of my face without it looking gross. It makes my face happy. Oh, and it has a really, um, appetizing appearance. This is about 5 drops, which is what I use on my face and neck each day.

Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
I'm guessing it's the hyaluronic acid that's responsible for most of the effects I like. If you can find a cheaper product with that ingredient in it, you might want to try that instead. And let me know if it's wonderful? For now, since I really, really like this shit, I am not inclined to experiment and potentially spend even more money buying a bunch of other slightly less expensive stuff that may not work. At around $30 (or more) for 1 oz., I realize that it is definitely not cheap. Even breaking it down to $8-10 or slightly per month is kind of shockingly expensive. But if you're feeling fancy, this might also make your face feel fancy. I just want you to know that. Please don't yell at me. I'm still cheap. I swear.

On the other hand, the Skin Balancing Antioxidant Serum with Retinol is less pleasant. It has that thick, gelatinous-yet-siliconey texture that doesn't feel great to apply and doesn't have many immediately noticeable results. It does mattify, so they suggest that you can use it as a primer. There's that. Maybe it's doing something long term, but maybe my beloved Resist antioxidant serum is also doing something long term, and it's instantly goddamned miraculous.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Instagram Mini-Review Roundup

Obviously I've been slacking in the blogging department. I miss it! The best I've been able to do for the last couple of months is to take a quick photo of something with my phone in the morning on the way out the door, and then write up a paragraph review of it on the bus on the way to work. Instagram is the most obvious and convenient medium for posts of that sort. I know, however, that not everyone uses Instagram, and I don't think you should feel like you have to. So in case these things are of any interest at all to non-Instagram users, I though I would post a little link roundup. (If you follow me on Tumblr, you've probably already seen these, too.) You can view the photos and reviews on the web (i.e. you don't need the app), and if you have any questions - since they are very bare bones - you can ask here.

Bonus: You can try to figure out how long I go between changing my bedding. (Don't judge too harshly - sometimes I take several photos the same morning when I have a few minutes to spare and then post them one at a time over the following days or weeks.) You can also play Spot the Cat! Puzzles and brain teasers for everyone!

I'll try to write more real posts when I can, but for the time being, there's these:

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cherry

ULTA Amped Lashes Mascara

Maybelline Mineral Power Finishing Veil (translucent loose powder)

Boots No. 7 Lift and Luminate Foundation and Lord & Berry Cream Foundation in White

Mirabella Prime for Face and Eyes

The Balm Meet Matt(e) Nude Eyeshadow Palette

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion (as eye makeup remover)

e.l.f. Essential Lipstick in Posh vs. Too Faced La Creme Lipstick in Cinnamon Kiss

The Balm Time Balm Concealer + Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer

DermOrganic Leave-In Treatment with Argan Oil

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Lip Balm SPF 15

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is "diversion" of salon hair care products a conspiracy theory?

I suspect that some people will get really heated up about this and argue with me, because they are trained hairstylists or salon owners or whatever, and I admit to not being an expert. Most of the explanations, however, of how fake, expired, or stolen salon products supposedly end up in mainstream drug and groceries stores have all the earmarks of a conspiracy theory. Namely, they don't stand up to scrutiny or make a lot of sense, when you think about them. In some versions, the shady distributers are storing up products for months or years until they expire, because then they apparently can no longer be tracked by their bar codes after a certain amount of time (?), and then they sell them to CVS, Target, etc. And that major corporation is totally cool with this, because they don't fear lawsuits from selling supposedly contaminated products one bit! Nope! In other versions (and sometimes combined with the previous ones), the crooks are emptying out half of the good product and filling the rest of the bottle with water or alcohol because . . . ??? Do they also have a stockpile of fake bottles to dump the other half of the product into? In that case, why buy the legit product at all? Why not just fake it all?

Anyway, yell at me if you like, but I suspect that this is something that stylists are taught in school, probably by people who really do think it is true (and maybe those people are told it by salon hair care brand sales reps). I don't think the stylists are lying - I think they believe it. Just like when they tell you that drugstore products with silicone will make your hair worse. The most logical explanation is that salons want you to buy products from them (which is reasonable) and so they need to have some kind of explanation for why what you find at the salon is better than what you find elsewhere.

I'm not saying there aren't counterfeit beauty products out there. But I doubt that Walgreens has been selling them - or stolen merchandise - for decades with no repercussions.

Do you have a better explanation for how this "gray market" functions? One that explains how it is profitable to the distributors and worthwhile to the large retailers? I'd love to hear it. ETA: I'm not just saying that. Everything I've found has been unconvincing. The argument that they sometimes actually cost more at mass retailers than salons is interesting, but not totally relevant, I think. That's just about shopping around for good prices.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Revlon Colorburst Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush (Review)

So it occurred to me that if I could take mediocre photos with my phone and post them to Instagram, I could also take mediocre photos with my phone and post them to my blog, cutting out at least part of the process and saving some time. What a treat for you. Let's face it, though, if you are someone who demands flawless photography, you're probably not a reader of my blog anyway.

Revlon Colorburst Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush

Here's a quick review of this glossy stain stuff from Revlon. On the plus side, it is a gorgeous pinkish coral color, it does feel moisturizing, and it does leave a stain. On the minus, the pretty coral glossiness wears away quite quickly, and on my lips, at least, which are fairly pigmented, the stain just ends up being slightly pink. That fucking awesome coral lasts maybe 30-40 min tops. I wouldn't be too disappointed it it were a regular gloss, but since it's supposed to stain, it's a big womp womp.

Immediately after applying, it's vibrant, glossy, and a little milky. It can look slightly patchy, but it becomes more translucent within minutes, so the patchiness goes away.

This second photo was taken about 20 min later. As you can see, most of the gloss has worn off and the color is less vibrant. The stain tends to wear away more in the middle of my lips, but that's pretty normal.

Revlon Colorburst Moisture Stain in Cannes Crush

So while I don't dislike this shit, exactly, I'm kind of disappointed that this was what I decided to use my precious CVS bucks on. I already have plenty of pink lip products, including stains. I wanted coral. I'm trying not to buy any more makeup these days because I have way too fucking much, and this was sadly not an exciting way to break that no buy streak.

It's not a bad product and you might have better luck if your lips are less pigmented or if you choose a different shade. At 0.27 oz. it's bigger than most glosses. If you already own any of the recent glossy stains that pretty much every company has been putting out, including the ones in the photo below, then you basically know how it's going to feel and apply, etc. I'd say it's closest to the L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain (briefly reviewed here), which also starts out a little more milky/opaque and then sets to a more translucent appearance.

(And then I finished writing this post on my phone and realized that the Blogger app doesn't let you add links so I had to do that on my computer, and it screws up the formatting, and what the fuck, why is it so terrible? I tried.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stitch Fix Again

No one wants to hear about how busy you are. Everyone is busy. I've been busy, so I'll leave it at that. The problem is that I also haven't been buying anything new to show you, and I haven't have time to take photos of crap I already have, so for the most part that leaves nothing but the occasional Instagram quickie. But I did take photos of the StitchFix box I got last month, so I figured I'd at least post those, in case anyone is interested. It's something! I had a different (better) experience than the first time I used the service, so it's worth an update. (But you can read more about the basics of the service at that link.)

The last time I used StitchFix, I had 3 main issues. The clothes they sent were: (1) too young, (2) too small, and (3) too expensive. This time around, they did much better in the first two categories. The stuff was still expensive, though, and I honestly probably would not have ordered anything if I hadn't had a credit (thanks to whoever clicked the link in my previous review!).

The only things I changed in my profile from last time (I think) was erring on the larger side where I am in between sizing, and saying that I mainly wanted work clothes, with some casual things as well.

Here's what I got:

Brixon Ivy Coco Swiss Dot Roll-Tab Blouse ($78): sheer, navy polyester blouse with flocked dots. It's not quite as vibrant as it appears here - just a dark navy blue. This fit well and is really cute.

Kensie Jeans Sophia Tall Length Skinny Jean ($88): tall, dark wash, skinny jeans with some stretch. These fit perfectly and were really comfy. I would have gladly paid $88 for these, which is more than I've ever spent on jeans, because they felt and looked awesome on. One problem, though:

There was some kind of defect in the way the pockets were sewn on or something else weird going on with the butt. The pockets are the same distance from the center seam, but there's almost twice as much distance from the side seam to the pocket on one side as there is from the other. It's not just the angle of the photo. I measured. It looked super weird. Lopsided ass cheeks are not a look I'm going for.

Sanctuary Stefani Lace Detailed Crew Neck Tank ($44): sleeveless heather navy t-shirt with lace insert. This just didn't look good on me. Made me look like a linebacker. And this one, more so than the other items, seemed really overpriced.

41Hawthorn Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse ($58): black polyester blouse. This was really cute, but just a tiny bit to tight in the arms. The sleeves have a cool details though:

Bay to Baubles Electra Stone & Chain Pendant Necklace ($36): Long necklace with a pink, plastic stone. It was cute, but I already had something similar to it.

In the end, the only thing I kept was the navy blouse, and I'm really happy with that. I would have kept the jeans too, if they hadn't been messed up. I even contacted the manufacturer to see if any other stores sell them, since you can't order directly from Stitch Fix, but they said Stitch Fix is the only company that sells their tall sizes.

I think that the types of clothes (brands, quality) that you get from Stitch Fix is on par with what you might find at a place like TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack, but marked up. You're going to pay more for the styling service and delivery and all that. For me, right now, it seemed like a good idea because I needed some new work clothes and didn't have time to shop (oops, I said I wasn't going to talk about being busy). So I thought I'd see what someone else would pick out for me. Like I said, though, I would have hesitated a whole lot more to pay these prices if I hadn't had some credit to use.

I was pretty happy with what was chosen for me this time, even though I didn't end up keeping all of it. I think it's a fun thing to do if you can afford it, and you definitely get to try some things that you might not have chosen for yourself and that are somewhat unusual. You just have to go into it knowing that you'll pay more for the clothes than you would if you actually dragged your ass to the strip mall. I may do it again sometime soon (and see if they'll send me a better pair of those jeans!). This is my referral link, if you're interested in trying it. Sometimes there is a few weeks wait before you can get a box, depending on how busy they are at that time of year (if you sign up now, you can get your box in late November).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cool new scientific skincare site

It's called Skincare Addiction, and it looks pretty great so far. Read a blog by people who actually have time to update it! That's, like, the best kind of blog!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

So much spam

I'm sorry if you've commented on a post recently, and it hasn't been approved. I've been swimming in spam, and I haven't had time to even blog (obviously), much less sort through spam for legit comments. It's not that I didn't like what you said, promise! I'm working on it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Everyone is soooooo busy

I've been busy lately. Too busy (or too unmotivated? or too tired?) to write up long posts, apparently. Blah, blah, no one cares. The point is that what I have been able to do now and then is post quick photos + very, very brief reviews on Instagram. If you follow me there, or on Tumblr or Twitter, you can get those updates. That's probably most of what I'll be doing for the next while, unless I decide that I need to write something with multiple photos or links or a long story. It's still fun for me, at least.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Big Too Faced Sale

Up to 70% off. For example, a set of 5 travel size products ("Beauty Editor Darlings") for $9 or the "Bonjour Beautiful" set with matte eyeshadow palette, lip palette, and eyeliner for $18. You can also get free shipping over $25 with code PRETTYPACKAGE (I think? worth a shot at least) and an extra 4% off from Ebates (invite link).

The only thing I've ever used from Two Faced is the lip primer, which I love. Anything else look good?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Birchbox vs. Ipsy

I recently decided to cancel my Ipsy subscription, which I've had since 2012, when it was still called My Glam. Instead, I've decided to start getting Birchbox again. Because I am sure that this is as exciting a development for everyone else as it is for me (ha), I thought I'd write up a little post about why.

I really preferred Ipsy for a long time. When I quit Birchbox in January 2013, it was because I was getting fed up with getting tons of little foil packets of things and perfume vials all the time. It looks like the samples they are sending now are more interesting, and they also have an option to only get a maximum of 6 perfume samples a year. Nice! Another reason I quit Birchbox in favor of Ipsy at the time that I did was that I was really into makeup and not particularly interested in other things like skin or hair care products. Ipsy seemed to be much heavier on the makeup/nail polish, while I kept getting moisturizers I didn't want from BB ("I'm plenty moist already!"). These days, though, Ipsy has been including more non-makeup items, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm finding myself more interested in skin care than I used to be, and my skin has been getting drier, so I am even fine with moisturizer samples.

Ipsy was also great for me when I had a smaller makeup hoard, because it sort of forced me to try out products I might not have considered. Like I probably wouldn't have picked out a bright red lip gloss for myself at that point, but it turned out to work really well (and got me hooked). Plenty of those products were full sized, and so they really made up a useful part of my collection. I think it this point part of the problem is that I own so much shit that most of the makeup they send me is either going to be a duplicate of something I already have or something I am really, really not interested in. I am rarely getting unusual and unique products from Ipsy anymore - or at least that's how it feels. Instead, I'm getting more black eyeliner and mascara or neutral lip glosses from brands I am already familiar with, etc. This month's bag was kind of the last straw for me, because there was absolutely nothing of particular interest to me. The only full size product included was a cheap green apple scented lip balm that I probably would have turned my nose up at in middle school. I think it might have glitter in it. Fuck no. (Snob.)

Here are the other things I got this month in my Ipsy bag:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Benefit sale + free shipping on all orders

Benefit has a bunch of stuff on sale. If you use the code SALEMEAWAY you'll also get free US shipping, no minimum purchase required. Sale ends Aug. 19. Anything look good?

Monday, August 11, 2014

CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara: My Thoughts

By now you've probably read a bunch of reviews of this mascara, because it's not exactly new any more. But there are a few things about it that I've found interesting, and that I didn't see mentioned anywhere before I bought my own, so I thought I'd share them here.

I was interested in trying out this particular mascara since I am a huge fan of CoverGirl LastBlast mascaras. I've probably tried out more than a dozen other mascaras in the last year or two, but LashBlast is still my favorite, and I was using it before I ever started makeup hoarding blogging. I find the LashBlast brush really user friendly - easy to get down to the roots of my stubby lashes - and the formula lengthens and volumizes without getting all spidery. It's not overly dramatic, but it looks great. It also never splatters or smears or flakes, which I think is at least partly because it has a drier formula (and I actually prefer it after it's been open for a couple of weeks and dried out even more).

Most of the information I read about Clump Crusher suggested to me that it would be similar to LashBlast but even less clumpy. I mean, there are a bunch of tests people have done in which they apply 48 layers of mascara or whatever and it never clumps. That's not particularly useful, but good to know, I guess.

I don't have a tube of LashBlast available right now to compare directly, since I am still using up the handfuls of other mascaras I decided somewhere along the way I needed to try. But here are my thoughts about Clump Crusher. I got it in brown, because all my other mascaras were black, and I like to have a brown option on hand. Since my coloring is so light, it's nice for creating a more natural look.

It definitely does not clump. Surprise, surprise. It also has a fairly dry formula, comparable to LashBlast. One thing that I love about the non-clumpiness is that it means that this stuff works better on my lower lashes than any other mascara I've tried, because non-clumpy also means non-globby. I basically have seven short eyelashes below each eye, and trying to apply mascara to them is usually a semi-disaster. I tend to end up with a blob on each lash, and then I have to wipe the blobs away and sometimes the blobs transfer to my lower lid. It's annoying and doesn't look too pretty, so half the time I skip my bottom lashes completely. But this stuff just coats each individual last evenly, and that's it! It's a fucking miracle. I'm going to keep one of these on hand just for doing bottom lashes even when I'm using something else on the top. Here are some photos of what it looks like on my eyelashes:

Invisible eyelashes with no mascara.
Three coats of Clump Crusher on upper lashes; one coat on lower lashes.
Three coats of Clump Crusher.
Four coats of Clump Crusher on upper lashes.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I am not a TV star (Review of e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain in Crimson Crush + sassy GIFs)

Every time I've watched New Girl or Don't Trust the B (RIP), I end up trying to figure out how to get my lips to look like Zooey Deschanel's or Krysten Ritter's. What is particularly appealing are the scenes when these women are just sort of hanging around the house casually, probably when we are supposed to assume that they are not wearing makeup (ha!) - yet they still have crimson lips. They don't really look like they have lipstick on; it's as if their lips are just naturally cherry red. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean:

These are perhaps not the best illustrations, because they look pretty lipsticky, but apparently people aren't screencapping or GIFing these ladies bumming around in their PJs.

I got it in my head that I needed a lip stain to replicate this look. I am fully aware that the product used on the actual TV shows was probably not a stain. More likely it's just blotted matte lipstick or something. If it wears off or gets messed up, they have a makeup artist standing by. Nevertheless, I wanted a stain! I am stubborn.

Stila on HauteLook + Blog Sale update

I figured that I would combine these two topics, in case anyone is sick of hearing about the blog sale (skip to the next paragraph in that case). Rest assured, this will be my last post about it. I'm moving in a week, so anything not sold by then will be packed up and dealt with some time in the distant(ish) future. I'll take the blog sale down at that point. But I just wanted to mention that I reduced the prices of a lot of stuff today, and I also added a few new things (check at the end of the makeup section under "Not Pictured"). As usual, no bargaining please, but do feel free to stock up on the free stuff.

I also thought I'd point out that Stila is on HauteLook again (invite link). It pops up fairly regularly but not always with the same items. This time there are some nice looking lip and cheek palettes for $8, and a 4-piece Kitten collection for $12. Not bad! The Laura Geller sale (invite link) is still there too, in case you want to maximize your ~$6 shipping charge.

I'm going to write up a quick e.l.f. lip stain review later this afternoon, so stay tuned.